Kleinschmidt, Shieva. The Experiential Problem of Petitionary Prayer
2018, International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 83(3): 219-229.
Added by: Emily Paul
Abstract: Sometimes we petition God for things through prayer. This is puzzling, because if God always does what is best, it is not clear how our prayers can make a difference to what God does. Difference-Making accounts of petitionary prayer attempt to explain how our prayers can nonetheless influence what God does. I argue that, insofar as one is motivated to endorse such an account due to wanting to respect widespread intuitions about this feature of petitionary prayer, they should also be motivated to endorse an account of prayer that respects widespread intuitions about other central features of petitionary prayer. I describe three problematic cases and the intuitions we have about them, and show how these intuitions restrict any Difference-Making account of petitionary prayer.
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Comment: Useful in an advanced UG or masters philosophy of religion course, as it can be discussed as a more complex version of a contradiction within God's alleged attributes - and it could be good as a task to get students to boil this down. Could also of course be very useful for a unit on petitionary prayer.